Being a heart patient, and going for a doctors visit every quarter is an ordeal with blood tests and ECG (Electrocardiogram) tests to be performed. These ECG machines take readings of the electrical activity of the heart which helps detect heart rate, the rhythm of the heartbeat and if there’s any damage to the heart muscles.
The problem with this is quarterly visits is that the reading of the heart is taken for less than 5 minutes every four months. This doesn’t give my doctor just a snapshot of how the heart is at this moment and not how it was over the whole period. That doesn’t mean that I’m going to head out to a clinic every day to get my readings taken – that’s just not convenient.
Innovation in Heart Care @ Home
ECG machines are huge, bulky and costly and it’s viable to have one lying around at home. Smaller Holter test machines which can be strapped on to patients to take a reading over a day are not exactly convenient since they need specialised equipment to extract the data.
A company based out of China is claiming to revolutionise this process by shrinking down the size of an ECG monitor to two tiny forms – a matchbox-sized device and another which is a hybrid smartwatch. Both of them pair with a mobile app to display, record and upload the ECG readings. This augmented with their Cloud-based Home Care Service stores the readings taken and helps link patients with their doctors. They are partnering with 68 hospitals in China to help take medical care to the patients home and thus reducing the cost of medical care. They are looking to expand their presence by licensing this technology to partners to roll out their product to a global consumer market.
SmartWatch which can monitor your Heart
What interested me was the Gilen ECG Smartwatch from VitalSigns which can track not just your heart rate, but also take a quick EGC reading when you need to.
The user just needs to touch the edges of the watch near 12º and 6º marking of the watch to take an ECG reading. Apart from this ability, the smartwatch provides these standard smartwatch capabilities:
- ECG 1 Lead Reading
- Heart Rate Monitor
- Blood Pressure measurements using PTT ( a method to read the blood pressure without needing a cuff)
- Step count, Distance & Calories measurements
- Sleep tracking
- Bluetooth LE ( for communication with their iOS and Android App)
- Date/Time and Week Indicator
- The company claims a 150-day battery life in Airplane mode, and yes the batteries are rechargeable.
The watch works along with their Home Care Service to send and store your reading on their cloud, and provide reports about the health of your heart. Here’s a video of the product in action. (You’ll need to gloss over the typos in the video)
Pricing and Availability
Vitalsigns is looking at funding and partnerships to get this product out into a broader consumer market this year. They plan to price the consumer version of the Smartwatch around $200 (around ₹. 12,900) and their Home Care Service at $3 ( approximately ₹200) per month.